Expert Advice

A Shy Child

Middle School Expert Advice from Judith Lee Ladd

Q
My daughter is in the sixth grade. She is a bright and thoughtful child, but is not very outgoing. What would you suggest she try to help her get a little acknowledgment from her peers?
A
Your daughter sounds like a wonderful girl. She can begin to get more experience at taking a leadership role by spending some time with younger children who will follow her more easily. These experiences will give her the confidence to tackle the peer group situation. Check with her school counselor to see if there are opportunities for her to tutor younger children as part of an ongoing school program. If not, check with the local library or church in your neighborhood. She will feel so much better about herself because she is helping others.

Does your daughter see the situation the same way you do? As parents, we often see things more clearly than our children. We make a priority of situations that our kids feel are less important. My suggestions will work best if your daughter feels the same as you do about her friend's behavior. If she doesn't, she may not identify her mild manner as the same problem you do. It is always easier to gain recognition from any group other than our peers, but it is the peer group that we most want to recognize us. Set a good example for your daughter when you are with your peers, so that she can see how to behave as a leader.

Judith Lee Ladd is a former president of the American School Counselor Association, a national organization of K-12 and post-secondary school counselors.

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